Tag Archives: local history

Community Webs joins the Digital Public Library of America

Internet Archive’s Community Webs program is delighted to announce a partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to ingest metadata from the over 700 publicly available Community Webs web archive collections into DPLA. These collections include thousands of archived websites and millions of individual web-published resources that document local history and underrepresented groups. The Internet Archive has been a DPLA content provider since 2015, primarily contributing content from our many print digitizing partnerships. Community Webs will also join DPLA as a member and we are excited for this opportunity to add hyperlocal born-digital and web collections from public libraries nationwide into DPLA’s national portal to cultural heritage collections.

The Community Webs program was launched in 2017 to provide training, infrastructure, services, and professional community cultivation for public librarians across the country for the purpose of documenting local history and community archiving, especially documenting communities and populaces traditionally excluded from the historical record. The program is in the midst of nationwide expansion and currently includes more than 100 member public libraries who are collaborating with local organizations, movements, and groups to document the lives and accomplishments of their citizens. The program continues to add new public libraries and cultural heritage organizations to support and scale their community archiving and has an open call for applications in the US, Canada, and internationally for additional public libraries and local heritage organizations to join the program. Examples of Community Webs collections include:

  • Community Webs members have created more than 30 collections documenting local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19 Coronavirus East Baton Rouge Parish from East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “Novel Coronavirus COVID-19” collection which focuses on “the African diasporan experiences of COVID-19 including racial disparities in health outcomes and access, the impact on Black-owned businesses, and cultural production.” 
  • Community Webs members have created a number of collections documenting LGBTQ groups, events and other resources, including LGBTQIA/Hormel Resources from San Francisco Public Library and Birmingham Public Library’s “LGBTQ in Alabama” collection.
  • Members are also actively archiving materials on their local or regional culture, such as Kansas City Public Library’s Arts & Culture collection, which “documents Kansas City’s thriving arts community, including galleries, museums, nonprofits, advocacy organizations, criticism and art spaces.”
  • Many members have focused on documenting local social services or advocacy groups, such as Madison Public Library’s Racial Equity and Social Justice, Madison, WI collection of “organizations and non-profits that engage in public discourse on issues of racial equity and social justice.”

Working with a mission-aligned organization like DPLA and our shared values of collaboration, open access, and community empowerment made it an obvious fit for Community Webs member collections to also be available in DPLA. Some public libraries who are a part of the Community Webs program are also members of local or statewide DPLA content hubs, and already have digitized content available in DPLA.The partnership between DPLA and Community Webs will ensure that archived web and born-digital collections are accessible alongside similar digitized materials for seamless discovery and access for uses. Pairing Community Webs’ free archiving, infrastructure, education, and other services with DPLA’s aggregation tools, hubs networks, and its advocacy role will help expand national access and capacity for making primary sources, and a more diverse archival record, accessible to any online user,

“DPLA’s new partnership with the Community Webs program will help further our mission to provide free digital access to cultural heritage artifacts that inform a truly representative history of our nation, “ said Shaneé Yvette Murrain, director of community engagement for DPLA. “We are thrilled to be deepening our work with Internet Archive through a program so perfectly aligned with our organizations’ shared values.”

“Pairing the community web archives of 100+ public libraries and the cohort cultivation that are part of Community Webs with the national scope and professional networks native to DPLA is a perfect match. We are excited to expand access to these amazing grassroots digital collections,” said Jefferson Bailey, Director of Web Archiving & Data Services at Internet Archive.

We are excited to be partnering with DPLA to increase access to these vital community history collections and look forward to building more integrations and furthering this collaboration in the years to come.

Community Webs Seeks Applicants from the US, Canada and Around the World

The Internet Archive is seeking applicants for its next cohort of Community Webs! We are thrilled to announce that the program is now open to additional cultural heritage organizations in the US, as well as any public library or local memory organization in Canada and internationally.

Community Webs provides infrastructure and services, training and education, and professional community cultivation for public libraries and cultural heritage organizations to document local history and the lives of their communities. Launched in the US in 2017 with kickoff funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Community Webs began expanding nationally in 2020 with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Building on the program’s success and continued growth, Internet Archive is now supporting expansion of the program into Canada and to the international community, and is accepting applications for our next cohort kicking off in late-Summer 2021. The deadline for applications is August 2, 2021.

The program offers a unique opportunity for participating organizations to build capacity in digital collecting. Community Webs participants work alongside peer organizations and with their local communities to document the lives of their citizens, marginalized voices, and groups often absent from the historical record. All Community Webs participants receive: 

  • A guaranteed multi-year free subscription to the Archive-It web archiving service, which includes perpetual storage and access provided by the Internet Archive.
  • Access to additional Internet Archive non-profit services, such as digitization and digital preservation, either for free (as funding allows) or at or below actual cost.
  • Training and educational resources related to digital collections, web archiving, digital preservation, and other topics, as well as access to a cohort community pursuing similar work and to networking spaces, events, and knowledge sharing platforms.
  • The option to leverage program partnerships and integrations to include community web archives in other aggregators or access platforms beyond Internet Archive.

The program currently includes over 100 public libraries from across the United States. These organizations have collectively archived over 70 terabytes of web-based community heritage materials. Some highlights include:

Archived web page: Reporte Hispano, April 6, 2021. New Brunswick Free Public Library. Spanish Newspapers collection.
Archived web page: KC Friends of Alvin Ailey, January 10, 2021. Kansas City Public Library, Arts & Culture collection.

The benefits of the program are wide-ranging and impactful for both participants and their communities. As Community Webs member Makiba J. Foster of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Broward County, Florida stated during a recent Community Webs event, Archiving the Black Diaspora, “Community Webs provided me with the training, they provided me with the cohort support, […] provided me with services, and particularly it helped to develop an expertise for me in terms of creating collections of historically significant web materials documenting our local communities.” The program “allowed me to start a project of recovery and documentation of digitally born content related to the Black experience.” More information about what Foster and other Community Webs members are up to can be found by viewing our recent program announcements.

Find out more about the program and keep up to date by visiting the Community Webs website. Apply online today and spread the word! 

Introducing 50+ New Public Library Members of the Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program

The Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program provides training and education, infrastructure and services, and professional community cultivation for public librarians across the country to document their local history and the lives of their patrons. Following our recent announcement of the program’s national expansion, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are excited to welcome the first class of 50+ new public libraries to the program. This brings the current number of new and returning Community Webs participants to 90+ libraries from 33 states and 3 US territories. This diverse group of organizations includes multiple state libraries representing their regions, as well as a mix of large metropolitan library systems, small libraries in rural areas, and libraries like the Feleti Barstow Public Library in American Samoa. All will be working to document their communities, with a particular focus on archiving materials from traditionally underrepresented groups.

The new cohort class kicked off with virtual introductory events in mid-March, where participants met one another and shared stories about their communities and their goals for preserving and providing access to local history materials. Member libraries are currently receiving training in topics such as collection development and starting to build digital collections that reflect local diversity, events, and culture.

Program participant Kathleen Pickering, Director of the Belen Public Library and Harvey House Museum in Belen, New Mexico notes that their library “is committed to free and open-source electronic resources for our patrons, especially given the low-income status of many of our residents” and Community Webs will help further that goal. Similarly, new cohort member Aaron Ramirez of Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) found Community Webs to be a great fit for existing institutional goals and initiatives. “PCCLD’s five-year strategic plan directs us to embrace local cultures, to include individuals of all skill levels and physical abilities, and to enrich established partnerships and collaborations. The groups that have not seen themselves in our archives will find through this project PCCLD’s intention and means to listen and go forward as allies and as a resource of support, rather than an institution serving only the affluent.”

Makiba J. Foster

Makiba J. Foster, Manager of The African American Research Library and Cultural Center of Broward County, Florida pointed out that “as content becomes increasingly digital, we need this opportunity to document the digital life and content of our community which includes a diverse representation of the Black Diaspora.”  Makiba was a member of the original Community Webs cohort in a previous position at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at New York Public Library, and recently presented on her work archiving the black diaspora to a group of more than 200 attendees.

The Community Webs Program is continuing to grow towards the milestone of over 150 participating libraries across the United States and will soon announce another call for applicants for a U.S. cohort starting in late summer. The program also is beginning to expand internationally, starting in Canada, exploring the addition of other types of libraries and cultural heritage organizations, and expanding its suite of training and services available to participants. Expect more news on these initiatives soon. 

Welcome to our new cohort of Community Webs libraries! The full list of new members: 

  • Alamogordo Public Library (New Mexico)
  • Amelia Island Museum of History (Florida)
  • ART | library deco (Texas)
  • Asbury Park Public Library (New Jersey)
  • Atlanta History Center (Georgia)
  • Bartholomew County Public Library (Indiana)
  • Bedford Public Library System (Virginia)
  • Belen Public Library and Harvey House Museum (New Mexico)
  • Bensenville Community Public Library (Illinois)
  • Biblioteca Municipal Aurea M. Pérez (Puerto Rico)
  • Carbondale Public Library (Illinois)
  • Cedar Mill & Bethany Community Libraries (Oregon)
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (North Carolina)
  • Chicago Public Library (Illinois)
  • City Archives & Special Collections, New Orleans Public Library (Louisiana)
  • Dayton Metro Library (Ohio)
  • Elba Public Library (Alabama)
  • Essex Library Association (Connecticut)
  • Everett Public Library (Washington)
  • Feleti Barstow Public Library (American Samoa)
  • Forsyth County Public Library (North Carolina)
  • Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library (Connecticut)
  • Heritage Public Library (Virginia)
  • Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (Alabama)
  • James Blackstone Memorial Library (Connecticut)
  • Jefferson Parish Library (Louisiana)
  • Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (Virginia)
  • Laramie County Library System (Wyoming)
  • Lawrence Public Library (Massachusetts)
  • Los Angeles Public Library (California)
  • Mill Valley Public Library, Lucretia Little History Room (California)
  • Missoula Public Library (Montana)
  • Niagara Falls Public Library (New York)
  • Pueblo City-County Library District (Colorado)
  • Rochester Public Library (New York)
  • Santa Cruz Public Libraries (California)
  • South Pasadena Public Library (California)
  • State Library of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania)
  • Tangipahoa Parish Library (Louisiana)
  • The African American Research Library and Cultural Center (Florida)
  • The Ferguson Library (Connecticut)
  • Three Rivers Public Library District (Illinois)
  • Virginia Beach Public Library (Virginia)
  • Waltham Public Library (Massachusetts)
  • Watsonville Public Library (California)
  • West Virginia Library Commission (West Virginia)
  • William B Harlan Memorial Library (Kentucky)
  • Worcester Public Library (Massachusetts)
  • Your Heritage Matters (North Carolina)

Community Webs Program Receives $1,130,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award for a National Network of Public Libraries Building Local History Web Archives

More than ever, the lives of communities are documented online. The web remains a vital resource for traditionally under-represented groups to write and share about their lives and experiences. Preserving this web-published material, in turn, allows libraries to build more expansive, inclusive, and community-oriented archival collections.

In 2017, the Internet Archive’s Archive-It service launched the program, “Community Webs: Empowering Public Libraries to Create Community History Web Archives.” The program provides training, professional development, cohort building, and technical services for public librarians to curate community archives of websites, social media, and online material documenting the experiences of their patrons, especially those often underrepresented in traditional physical archives. Since its launch, the program has grown to include 40 public libraries in 21 states that have built almost 300 collections documenting local civic life, especially of marginalized groups, creating an archive totaling over 50 terabytes and tens of millions of individual digital documents, images, audio-video, and more. The program received additional funding in 2019 to continue its work and focus on strategic planning, partnering with the Educopia Institute to ensure the growth and sustainability of the program and the cohort.

We are excited to announce that Community Webs has received $1,130,000 in funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for “Community Webs: A National Network of Public Library Web Archives Documenting Local History & Underrepresented Groups,” an nationwide expansion of the program to include a minimum of 2 public libraries in each of the 50 United States, plus additional local history organizations in U.S territories, for a total of 150-200 participating public libraries and heritage organizations. Participants will receive web archiving and access services, training and education, and funds to promote and pursue their community archiving. The Community Webs National Network will also make the resulting public library local history community web archives available to scholars through specialized access tools and datasets, partner with affiliated national discovery and digital collections platforms such as DPLA, and build partnerships and collaborations with state and regional groups advancing local history digital preservation efforts. We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support to grow this program nationwide and empower hundreds of public librarians to build archives that elevate the voices, lives, and events of their underrepresented communities and ensure this material is permanently available to patrons, students, scholars, and citizens.

Over the course of the Community Webs program, participating public libraries have created diverse collections on a wide range of topics, often in collaboration with members of their local communities. Examples include:

  • Community Webs members have created collections related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “Novel Coronavirus COVID-19” collection which focuses on “the African diasporan experiences of COVID-19 including racial disparities in health outcomes and access, the impact on Black-owned businesses, and cultural production.” Athens Regional Library System created a collection of “Athens, Georgia Area COVID-19 Response” which focuses on the social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 on the local community, with specific attention on community efforts to support frontline workers. A recent American Libraries article featured the COVID archiving work of public libraries.
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library’s archive of “Immigrant Experience”, a collection of websites on the activities, needs, and culture of immigrant communities in Central Ohio.
  • Sonoma County Public Library’s “North Bay Fires, 2017” collection documenting when “devastating firestorms swept through Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties” and part of their “Sonoma Responds: Community Memory Archive.”
  • Birmingham Public Library’s “LGBTQ in Alabama” collection “documenting the history and experiences of the LGBTQ community in Alabama.”
Community Webs public librarians at IA HQ

We look forward to expanding the Community Webs program nationwide in order to enable hundreds of public libraries to continue to build web collections documenting their communities, especially in these historic times.

We expect to put out a Call for Applications in early December for public libraries to join Community Webs. Please pass along this opportunity to your local public library. For more information on the program, check out our website or email us with questions.

“Community Webs” Receives Additional Funding to Further Public Library Local History Web Collecting

In 2017, our Archive-It service was awarded funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the 2-year project “Community Webs: Empowering Public Librarians to Create Community History Web Archives.” The program has been providing training and technical infrastructure for a diverse group of librarians nationwide to develop expertise in creating collections of historically valuable web-published materials documenting their local communities and under-represented communities. In response to an unexpectedly large group of applicants, and with additional internal funding, we were able to expand the cohort to a total of 28 libraries from 16 states. The launch announcement and the dedicated website have further information about the program and its progress.

We are excited to announce that IMLS has recently provided additional supplementary funding to Community Webs! The additional funding will allow us to focus on program evaluation, expansion, and strategic planning. We are very pleased to be working with the Educopia Institute in support of this work and will benefit from their vast expertise in community cultivation and program facilitation.

Over the course of the original 2-year Community Webs program, the 28 participating libraries created hundreds of archived collections totaling more than 40 terabytes of data, gave dozens of professional presentations at local and national conferences, held many public programs and patron-facing events, and attended numerous meet-ups and cohort events. As well, the program created a suite of open educational resources, online courses, and other training materials supporting digital curation skills development, local history web collecting, and community formation. Some sample collections created as part of the program include:

#HashtagSyllabusMovement by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
LGBTQ in Alabama by Birmingham Public Library
D.C. Punk (Web) Archive by DC Public Library, Special Collections
North Bay Fires, 2017 by Sonoma County Public Library
Food Culture by Athens (GA) Regional Library System
Movimiento Cosecha Grand Rapids by Grand Rapids Public Library

The program’s website has links to each participating institution’s collections page.

We are grateful to IMLS for the additional funding to continue this popular program, excited to work with Educopia on further community development, and encourage any public libraries interested in participating to contact us.

“Make It Weird”: Building a collaborative public library web archive in an arts and counterculture community

This post is reposted from the Archive-It blog and written by guest author Dylan Gaffney of the Forbes Library, one of the public libraries participating in the Community Webs program.

Whether documenting the indie music scene of the 1990s, researching the history of local abolitionists and formerly enslaved peoples in the 1840s, or helping patrons research the early LGBT movement in the area, I am frequently reminded of what was not saved or is not physically present in our collections. These gaps or silences often reflect subcultures in our community, stories that were not told on the pages of the local newspaper, or which might not be reflected in the websites of city government or local institutions. In my first sit down with a fellow staff member to talk about the prospects for a web archive, we brainstormed how we could more completely capture the digital record of today’s community. We discussed including lesser known elements like video of music shows in house basements, the blog of a small queer farm commune in the hills, the Instagram account of the kid who photographs local graffiti, etc. My colleague Heather whispered to me excitedly: “We could make it weird!” I knew immediately I had found my biggest ally in building our collections.

The Forbes Library was one of a few public libraries chosen nationwide for the Community Webs cohort, a group of public libraries organized by the Internet Archive and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to expand web archiving in local history collections. As a librarian in a small city of 28,000 people, who works in a public library with no full-time archivists, the challenge of trying to build a web archive from scratch that truly reflected our rich, varied and “weird” cultural community, the arts and music scenes, and the rich tradition of activism in Western Massachusetts was a daunting but exciting project to embark on.

We knew we would have to leverage our working relationships with media organizations, nonprofits, city departments, the arts and music community, and our staff if we truly hoped to build something which reflected our community as it is. Our advantage was that we had such relationships, and could pitch the idea not only through traditional means like press releases and social media, but by chatting after meetings typically spent coordinating film screenings, gallery walks, and lawn concerts. We knew if we became comfortable enough with the basic concepts of archiving the web, that we could pick the brains of activists planning events in our meeting rooms, friends at shows, the staff of our local media company who lend equipment to aspiring filmmakers, and the folks who sell crops from small family farms in the community at the Farmer’s Markets.

We started by training just a few Information Services staff in one-on-one sessions and shared Archive-It training videos. This helped to broaden the number of librarians familiar with the Archive-It software in general, but also got the wheels turning amongst our reference and circulation staffs–our front lines of communication with the public–in particular. We talked a great deal about what we wish we had in our current archive, about filling in gaps and having the archive more accurately reflect and represent our community.

In order to solicit ideas from the community for preservation, we put together a Google form to be posted online, which was almost entirely cribbed from my Community Webs cohort colleagues at East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Queens Public Library and others. We also set up in-person, one-on-one meetings with community partners and academic institutions that were already engaged in web archiving. We put out press releases and generally just talked to and at anyone who would listen. As a result, nearly all of our first web archival acquisitions come directly from recommendations by the public and our community partners.

For instance, one of the first websites that I knew I wanted to preserve was From Wicked to Wedded, a great site which preserves the history of the LGBTQ community in our area. It was gratifying when two of the first responses to our online outreach also mentioned the site and we had a great conversation with its creator, who researches at the library, and who, like all the content creators we’ve approached thus far, was excited to be included.

Creating an accurate and exciting overview of the lively arts scene in Northampton and the surrounding area seemed like a daunting task at first, but by crawling the websites of notable galleries, arts organizations, and Northampton’s monthly gallery walk, we found that we were quickly able to capture a really interesting cross-section of local artists’ work. We have subsequently begun working with the local arts organizations directly  to identify artists who may have their own websites worthy of inclusion.

Similarly, Northampton has a rich music scene for a city of its small size. With the number of people already documenting live music these days, we weren’t sure how to contribute with our own selection and curation, and so asked several folks embedded in the scene to curate some of their own favorite content, then reached out to the bands themselves to get their thoughts. We are still early in this process, but the response has been encouraging and the benefits to the library in building relationships with folks who are documenting the music scene have already led to physical donations to the archive as well.

It was important to us from the beginning to also consult with Northampton Community Television. NCTV partners with the library on film programming to preserve a record of all they do for the community–teaching filmmaking, lending equipment, training and empowering citizen journalists.. They, in turn, have pointed us to local filmmakers, and through our ongoing collaborations around film programming and the Northampton film festival, we have a platform for outreach in that community as well.

Staff members and local activists pointed us in the direction of other new local radio shows and citizen journalism websites, both of which give personal takes on local politics. One was a wonderful radio show called Out There by one of our bicycle trash pickup workers Ruthie. In a single episode, Ruthie will talk to everybody from the mayor, environmental activists and farmers, to the random junior high kids that she runs into hanging out on the bike path under a bridge.  The other recommendation was for a new citizen journalism site called Shoestring which asks common sense questions of people in power in local government and places them in a national context. The folks from Shoestring stopped by the library’s Arts and Music desk to ask about our bi-weekly Zine Club meeting, which gave us an opportunity to talk about including their site in our web archive and led to physical donation to the archive as well!

At numerous people’s suggestion, we are preserving the Instagram account of our gruff looking former video store clerk turned City Council president Bill Dwight. Bill has a great camera, a great eye and has the ability to capture a wonderful cross-section of the community in his feed. Dann Vazquez has an instagram feed dedicated to capturing oddball moments, new building developments and local graffiti, (one of the more ephemeral of our community’s arts) which gives a unique day to day perspective of change on the streets of our city.

We are a community rich in activism, with a long tradition that, like our LGBTQ history, has not been properly reflected in our archives. For years, the personal and organizational archives of local activists have found homes at the larger colleges and Universities in the Five College Area. Now, by including the websites of long-running and new nonprofits and activist organizations, we are able to create a richer archive for future generations to learn from their pioneering work.

We have tried to remain conscious of what communities are being left out of the collections we are developing, such as the non-English speaking communities with whom we need to improve our outreach and individuals and organizations that might not have a digital presence currently. As we  have the ability to offer basic training at the library and through our community partners,we have recently been exploring the idea of creating a website or Instagram account designed to give individuals and organizations the opportunity to try out these technologies without the weight of a long-term commitment, but with the assurance that their content would be preserved among our web archives.

It still feels that we are in the earliest phases of this endeavour, but we have tried to build a collaborative system of curation which could be sustained going forward. By spreading the role of curation across the community, we can prevent staff burnout on the project and ensure that the perspectives represented in the archive are broader, more varied, and thus more reflective of our small city as it is.

Additional credits: IA staff Karl-Rainer Blumenthal who edits the Archive-It blog and Maria Praetzellis, who manages the Community Webs program.